2002 Cavalier Power Steering Rack Replacement (Part 1) -EricTheCarGuy

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Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94wY_tAommo&feature=youtu.be

This video is part of a series on this 2002 Chevy Cavalier. When this car first showed up it had been in a minor collision, it had slid off the road into a curb. I found a damaged wheel but I also found that it would not drive down the road properly and the steering wheel was way off. I concluded that the power steering rack had been damaged. This is part 1 of the replacement of that broken power steering rack. On a scale of 1-10 I would say the difficulty level of this one is about a 7 so be prepared for a bit of a fight if you need to do this job. In addition to the Cavalier this video should also apply to other GM vehicles of this same size, the Pontiac Sunfire comes to mind as well as the equivalent Buick and Olds offerings.

Here are links to some of the videos referenced in the video.

Collision Inspection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSWdf_7HcqI&feature=youtu.be

Removing Rusty Fasteners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqNcBkLvptg

Lubing the Chassis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB2RiRKDQ9k

Discussion about this video: https://www.ericthecarguy.com/kunena/18-The-EricTheCarGuy-Video-Forum/44094-2002-cavalier-power-steering-rack-replacement#53751

Stay Dirty


Due to factors beyond the control of EricTheCarGuy, it cannot guarantee against unauthorized modifications of this information, or improper use of this information.  EricTheCarGuy assumes no liability for property damage or injury incurred as a result of any of the information contained in this video. EricTheCarGuy recommends safe practices when working with power tools, automotive lifts, lifting tools, jack stands, electrical equipment, blunt instruments, chemicals, lubricants, or any other tools or equipment seen or implied in this video.  Due to factors beyond the control of EricTheCarGuy, no information contained in this video shall create any express or implied warranty or guarantee of any particular result.  Any injury, damage or loss that may result from improper use of these tools, equipment, or the information contained in this video is the sole responsibility of the user and not EricTheCarGuy.


Author: Rafael


45 thoughts on “2002 Cavalier Power Steering Rack Replacement (Part 1) -EricTheCarGuy

  1. Hey, 2002 Sunfire SE owner here, I thought i'd share this tip here incase anyone needed it. Dropping the subframe actually isn't necessary, once the rack is loose, you can tilt it about 90 degrees backwards into a little "compartment" (connection for steering pointing to the back of the car) from here, push it as far as possible out the passenger side, you should sooner or later be able to pull out the driver's side tie rod end, pull that out through the opening under the car then essentially what you can do is then pull the whole rack and pinion out from under the car.

  2. I needed to remove the steering knuckle. It was very hard for me to disconnect the ball joint, I mean to disconnect it from the knuckle, I used 2 pry bars, somehow disconnected it, but I think it would be very
    hard to put it back. I'm afraid the new bushing on the new ball joint can be torn with those pry bars. It is advised in Hayne's Manual to disconnect the Stabilizer Bar from the Control Arm at the beginning of the procedure. Do you happen know what for it should be done? I removed the knuckle without this disconnection and I don't understand the purpose of it. I kind of loose it, but I think it didn't make the
    removal of the knuckle from the ball Joint easier. 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. Thank you for the informative film.

  3. Just did this on my 2005 sunfire . A few things to help others.

    Buy a crow foot flare nut wrench for the fittings .

    Use a heat gun on that plastic collar to get it back on – slips right on.

    If you break the outer cross member bolts or the nut inside the frame spins, you can cut an access hole in the floor board from the inside . It sucks but has to be done . I He have inspection cam footage video on my channel showing the issue

    Go to scrap yard and pull the same bolt from same car to replace .

    Make sure your rack is centered before putting it into the car , mine wasn't .

    Took me about 30 hours because of all the issues I had . Good luck , dont start if you need the car with in a week or two

  4. I am no means a certified mechanic, so am just wondering after disconnecting the battery why not drain the power steering fluid as much as possible 1st. Again just asking not criticizing.

  5. I know this is an old video but I am doing a similar repair to my 01 sunfire. I found the cavalier and sunfire share alot of parts. My subframe had rusted and started tearing. I am down to the steering rack connections and the steering shaft. I hope I dont have to remove the master cylinder bolts but if you say it makes it easier I think I will try it. I am replacing a lot of stuff on this car to keep it in the family for long time. I have a new subframe, new brake parts, new inner and outer tie rod ends and ball joints. I read that the steering rack can just be unbolted and left in place when I go to pull the subframe. But they also recommend lowering the subframe to get clearance to disconnect those fittings. Just wanted to thank you for the detailed video. I never came across this when i first started the work. Would have made this much easier.

  6. This is an excellent step by step video do-it-yourselfer appreciate it man how you break everything down simplified from setting the car up locating the parts how to remove them hats off. That's cool too cuz somebody just gave me a 2002 Chevy Cavalier needs rack and pinion and I have all the parts with the car so I'm going to go for it. I sure wish I had a friend like you though ha….

  7. Also Eric, you must be the most patient mechanic around. Nice shop space but you still don't use a lift. I can barely stand jacking my own car up let alone doing it daily for work. A patient mechanic is a good mechanic. Cheers.

  8. Only remaining J-bodies in that era were Chevy and Pontiac I believe. The other sub-brands; Olds, Cadillac and Buick were discontinued in the late 80's.

    Interesting dumb little fact for you Cavalier fans…Did you know there was a Toyota Cavalier built by GM and imported to Japan as a re-badge to Toyota? I thought it was both interesting and humorous. Cheers.

  9. Just a few tips for people trying this job…If those power steering hoses are awful to take off, just buy new ones and cut them. They are only $30 from Rockauto for both and most steering rack manufacturers recommend changing them at the same time. My high pressure line was already rounded off and the air chisel trick didn't work for me.

    If you aren't getting enough clearance to pull the rack out when you remove the 2 sub frame bolts on the driver side and the two in the middle, just take off that stupid frame brace on the driver side. I think I gained another half inch just by removing it. I could not get the long passenger side bolt out, and after many heat-impact-heat-breaker bar attempts I snapped the head off. That bolt was completely rust fused to the car for me. Removing that brace also allowed me to get all the bolts back in much easier.

    Thanks as always Eric!

  10. what could enable a 02 cavalier to let the front driver side tire press all the way back into the wheel well with an outward angle and the front passenger tire to run on the front of the wheel well? is this the issue this person was having? a local shop said it's a rusted frame and to scrap it…. albeit without looking at it.

  11. I know this is an old post but i have a real problem. I cant get either lines loose from the rack. Is it possible to get the rack out with the lines still attached? I have them loose from the power steering pump. Right now i'm in a world of shit. Please help thnx

  12. ugh. mine just went out. given all the other issues the car has big and small im not even going to bother with this repair. literally almost cheaper to buy a cheaper replacement car.

    fantastic vid as usual though.

  13. Great videos Eric, thanks. I need your recommendation. After installing new rack and pinion on Subaru legacy 2008, it makes a loud sound as if the muffler is broken, and frong light flashes. Muffler is properly connected. What should I do? Thanks.

  14. I seriously don't know how you went as long without a lift. I would've spent every cent I had to get one as soon as I moved into that shop..really happy that you have one now. Love your vids.

  15. I just obtained a 2002 Cavalier LS Sport for free. Been sitting on my property for 2 years, friend doesn't want it anymore. threw a can of Seafoam in the tank, and swapped out the dead battery and it started beautifully, not all in that order though. lol

    Currently has some idle issues, but I am trying to work all that old fuel out of the system. I did top up at the pump to dilute the old fuel, and also threw in a bottle of HEET to get rid of any water that accumulated in the tank from sitting with a half tank. Definitely going to be throwing injector cleaning in there for quite a few fillups to clean out any gunk that might have accumulated.

  16. I'm really glad u got a camera guy now ur videos went up a level forsure… Good video nonetheless, always entertained by ur vids.liked

  17. I just wanted to say thanks for the great video!  I had to replace the rack on my wife's Sunfire this weekend and your video was worth a thousand times more than the bloody manual.

  18. I believe that the insurance totaled out this vehicle after the accident you described. These cavaliers were possibly one of the worst cars that Chevy ever made. They all petty much fell apart. any GM is made like that really. The only GM I like these days is Buick. Pontiac is even worse, hence the reason they went bankrupt. Sure there's lots of parts still available for these cars so they can be fixed. I just hope you didn't spend a lot of money on it because as I've said previously they aren't worth very much.

  19. Took a bit too much time on that. Remove both wheels. Mark then bust the tow-in nuts at tie rods, as well as the tie-rod joints free from the steering knuckles. Lower the rear of the cradle no more than a couple of inches with the floor jack. Using a 3 ft prybar, lift the u-joint cover through opened left wheel housing. Rotate the steering wheel so the pinch bolt is accessible through same opening then turn the ignition key to lock wheel placement. Using a ratchet & 3 ft extension, remove u-joint pinch bolt and then pry joint off rack. Once joint has been released from the rack you can lower cradle a bit more for hand access from underneath. The rest of the removal of the fld lines, using crow foot line wrenches, and rack mounting bolts can be done from underneath the car. Pull the loose rack through the drivers side wheel opening. Nice endeavor, albeit, trial and error. 1.5 hrs labor, out & in, my way.

  20. Eric is a saintly person.  This isn't the worst procedure I've ever seen a person have to go through…but it's pretty miserable.  To this I say: bravo.  Bravo indeed good sir.   

  21. dude this is exactly what i needed man i jst needed to know if there was anything connecting the steering rack to the subframe and u showed me tht inside the boot man, great big fakin help man thnksXD

  22. I need help here Eric. My jackass mechanic (main reason I'm all DIY now) assembled the steering wheel upside down! so, the easiest way to fix it is only to remove that U joint, push the rod in, turn the steering wheel 180º, and put it back in? (send it back is not an option, I already did warranty with him 3 TIMES! I just don't want to see him again.)

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